Bolts rookie Hedman feels OK after Neil hit, but won’t play against Canadiens

MONTREAL – Rookie defenceman Victor Hedman says he feels OK after being rocked by a hit from Ottawa’s Chris Neil, but to be safe, he will not be in the lineup for the Tampa Bay Lightning’s next game against the Montreal Canadiens.

“I don’t want to risk anything,” Hedman said Friday after watching his teammates practice at the Bell Centre. “It’s day to day. There’s still a lot of games left in the season, so I’m not going to play.”

The Bolts end a four-game road trip Saturday night against the Canadiens.

Neil took a long run and flattened Hedman with a body check behind the Tampa net with 5:48 left in the second period of the Senators 3-2 overtime win on Thursday night. The 18-year-old was helped off and did not return to the game.

He said he felt no dizzyness or other signs of a concussion and holds no grudge against Neil for the hit, adding that he must learn to keep his head up.

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“I feel good,” said Hedman. “It was a clean hit.

“I didn’t see it, but I’ve been told it was a clean hit. I was behind my net, I was trying to pass the puck back to Ollie (Mattias Ohlund) and tried to reach for it and he just came and ran over me. So then I couldn’t play. I was a bit shaky there, so it’s day to day. I can’t rush things. Just take it slow.”

Hedman watched the practice with members of the Swedish national junior team, who are in Montreal for a series of exhibition games against university squads.

Hedman won silver with Sweden at the world junior championships in Ottawa last January. He jumped straight to the NHL after he was drafted second overall, behind John Tavares, in June, and expects to miss the next world juniors that begin in December in Saskatoon and Regina.